Recently, I had an online friend die, unexpectedly, suddenly. He was a professional video producer, who I had met through an online forum. I'd never met him in person, but we'd traded posts online and emails directly over the last few years. It really hit me hard, in that he was my age.
The next thing I notice was how many of the people on the forum posted stories about times they'd met at events like NAB in Vegas, etc. Later on, several people posted back that they'd attended the service, and we all felt like we'd been there. Its going to be hard knowing this guy will no longer be posting, he was the kind of person who always had something helpful to add to a discussion. It was also apparent from the stories and overall out pouring of support, this guy lived life, he did what he loved, and it really showed.
Later that day, the first day I had heard of his passing, a strange thought crept into my mind. What if none of the people who knew of his passing had known about the rest of us, online? How would we have known? How long would it take for us to find out?
So now I'm thinking, hey, I have my website, my blogs, my Twitter followers, my Facebook friends, my My Space people, and odds are, none of them would know I was gone, unless someone else took the time to post something for me. There have been times where I lived alone, worked from home, and sometimes didn't see people for a few days because I was busy. So far as I know, none of my family knows my passwords, and its only been recently, like the last year or two, that any of my family have really gotten connected to my online world.
Should we all have an addition to our will, that describes our "digital real estate" in as much detail as our "real world" assets? How many of us even have a will? I'm 42 now, and the only reason I have a will was because when I was in the Navy, they sat us all down before going out to the Desert Storm cruise, and had us make one. I have never bothered to make another one, now that I think of it!
Then there is another question that comes to mind. Once you're gone, eventually your blogs and websites will be taken down, unless you leave some kind of legacy in place to keep them online. Some of the stuff would be ok getting wiped I guess, but like when you find your grandparents letters in the attic, wouldn't it be cool to leave a blog for future generations?
Mostly I just wanted to get the thought out there. I don't have a lot of answers to this, but I'd welcome any comments.